[QODLink]
Middle East
Egypt president to undergo surgery
Mubarak temporarily delegates presidential power to the county's prime minister.
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2010 05:37 GMT
Mubarak, right, complained of gall bladder pain while in Germany for talks with Merkel [AFP]

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, will undergo a gall bladder operation in Germany on Saturday, Egyptian state television has announced.

It reported on Thursday that the ageing president had complained of gall bladder pain while in Germany for talks with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

"Mubarak is undergoing surgery on his gall bladder because he has been suffering severe inflammation of his gall bladder," state television reported.

The operation would take place in Heidelberg, where he had gall bladder tests, it said, adding that his wife and two sons including Gamal, as well as Hatem el-Gabali, the health minister, were with him.

Mubarak temporarily delegated presidential power to Ahmed Nazif, the country's prime minister, the television said.

"He has issued a presidential decree delegating Ahmed Nazif presidential powers until he returns," it said.

The health of Mubarak, who turns 82 this year, is usually a taboo subject in the country he has ruled since 1981, fuelling regular rumours on the subject.

Concerns

Samer Shehata, an Egyptian professor at Georgetown University, told Al Jazeera the fact that Egypt has no vice-president, news of Mubarak's undergoing surgery becomes "a concern to many Egyptians and many outside the country if it does not go well".

IN DEPTH

  Profile: Hosni Mubarak
  Inside Story: El-Baradei, Egypt's next president?
  Mubarak's birthday blues
  Mubarak dodges presidency question

"Whenever there is a health issue with [the] president, all of a sudden questions of succession rise to the forefront of Egyptian politics, tremendous speculation, some concern and anxiety, and this is just one of those examples," he said.

"The succession issue is one of the most hotly contested issues in Egypt right now. For good reason, it's tied into the issue of democratization and reform and so on."

In 2007, rumours about Mubarak's poor health were rife to the extent that the president was forced to make an unscheduled public appearance to dispel them.

One year later, Ibrahim Eissa, the editor-in-chief of the independent daily al-Dustur, was sentenced to two months in jail after his newspaper published rumours on Mubarak's health. He later received a presidential pardon.

Successor speculation

Mubarak's fifth six-year term as president will end in 2011 and press reports in Egypt have suggested that his son Gamal is likely to succeed him.

Neither Mubarak nor his son has made any clear statement on the matter.

However, Mubarak said on Thursday that Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), could run for the presidency provided he respected the constitution.

ElBaradei, 67, last month flew to Cairo, the capital, to a rapturous welcome from supporters and formed the National Association for Change.

He has said he will run for president on condition that the constitution is amended.

Under Egyptian law, a presidential candidate is required to have been a leading member of a party for at least one year and for the party to have existed for at least five years.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.